Veterans gather in Cassino to mark WWII campaign

Monte Cassino ranks as one of the best known campaigns of World War II, where the Maori Battalion suffered phenomenal losses.
Monte Cassino ranks as one of the best known campaigns of World War II, where the Maori Battalion suffered phenomenal losses.

Thirty-eight New Zealand veterans of the Italian campaign in World War Two will gather overnight at Cassino to remember the thousands of comrades who never returned home.

The soldiers are gathering at the Cassino Commonwealth War Graves Commission Cemetery to commemorate the 70th anniversary of the battles of Monte Cassino.

Defence Minister Jonathan Coleman said it was a privilege to be there at Cassino with the old soldiers.

"It is important we remember our history, and the sacrifices made by the New Zealanders who fought in WWII for the peace and freedom we live in today.

"Today, we pay tribute to the brave and determined soldiers who served in Italy. New Zealanders as well as British, Indian, Polish, French, American and German troops fought in tough, unrelenting conditions.

"The 2nd New Zealand Division was extremely well regarded as a formidable fighting force, and played a key role in the defeat of German forces in Italy. Monte Cassino was one of the most significant battles New Zealand forces were involved in during the Italian campaign.

The 2nd New Zealand Division suffered 1600 casualties at Monte Cassino. During the Italian campaign, 2176 New Zealanders were killed, while 6700 were wounded.

Prince Harry and the Governor-General Sir Jerry Mateparae are also attending the service.

- nzherald.co.nz

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